A conversation with Benathon about “Mania”

Q: Hi! How did you approach the songwriting and production?

A: Hello! Approaching this song was honestly a fun, but also very frustrating process. This song initially started out not long after I was wondering “What next?” after writing ‘Under The Moon’. It started initially as a direct rewrite, which wasn’t the intention, but you’ve got to start somewhere. I was in the shower one day when all of a sudden, my mind had completely cleared, and I just started singing “It’s Mania”, the hook was born. I wanted the song to follow the central theme of my creation into the entity that I am now. ‘Mania’ serves as a fictional monologue to those who crafted me in a facility in order to create a ‘perfect’ product of pop, and the chaos that can follow when one comes into their own power. It then blossomed further into the story of when you meet someone for the first time and there’s that spark, and from there, how the brain begins to race and all kinds of thoughts develop, and thus, the story unfolds further where you go home together and the whole situation feels crazy. I knew from the start though that I wanted this track to take a direction more towards the Dance genre, which is where it started to take its own shape. In order to build the production from there, I followed the instinct of how bodies react when any sort of intensity should arise. Sensations like a fast heartbeat, fleeting thoughts, rising temperatures, and I wanted to translate that my way into the track.

Q: “Mania” seems to have a very distinct sound compared to your previous work. Can you discuss the evolution of your musical style leading up to this song?

A: My biggest mission for ‘Mania’ was that I wanted something of high intensity to coincide with the theme of the song, as well as have it blend into the overall project. ‘Under The Moon’ as a whole was inspired by the pacing of movie soundtracks, and ‘Mania’ to me served as the first high impact soundscape after the initial setup of a Science-Fiction Action film, that helps keep the energy moving without becoming stagnant. Think ‘Under The Moon’ as the opening credits song, and ‘Mania’ is the opening action sequence. There are some sounds used within the track as well that we messed with in studio when it came to polishing up the project to emulate sensations. I wanted to add white noise into the break before the final chorus, and as I heard it, I wanted to change the pitch midway. My producers, Jennifer Matthews and Paul ‘Smudge’ Harris questioned it at first because you can’t necessarily pitch static noise. We still tried it, and it opened the frequency enough for our ears to notice a difference, and that was what I wanted. The funniest thing about this song is that for me, every time I listened to it, my mind would always go “what’s missing? Something feels like it’s missing.” But the truth is, nothing is missing. It’s become almost like a little signature for the song for me because it gets me thinking about the song, and where it could go. It opens up the same sensation to which is depicted within the song.

Q: The music video for “Mania” is quite striking. What was the concept behind it, and how involved were you in the creative process?

A: Thank-you! I’m incredibly happy with the finished product. The concept was really fun to construct. At its root, I wanted the video to be a very Pop Music Video, but I also wanted a story to be told. It serves as a direct sequel to my last Music Video for my lead single ‘Out Of Reach’, and what happens after I was (Spoiler Alert) attacked. The concept depicts the experiment that is run in order to create the Pop product of Benathon, taking in influence of pop culture, fashion, music, sex, and anything else you can think of when you think of a pop star. The experiment soon goes awry when I come to my own consciousness, with the addition of the extra power and influence fed into me, and I take down ‘The Scientist’ (Isabella Jones) in charge of this operation. I then take my two products (Evie Ford and Lucy Bancroft) that were created to be my dedicated followers, and we march into the outside world, ready for whatever may come at us. There are also two other characters/personas within the video, there’s the fleshed-out pop star version of me, depicted in my blue costume. Then there is, who I like to call, ‘The Entity’, who is the face of the program running throughout the experiment. The overall inspiration for the final product came from references such as the works of Stanley Kubrick, movies ‘The Fifth Element’ and ‘Resident Evil’, as well as music videos like ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ and ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’. I was heavily involved in the creative process; I love to be involved as much as possible when it comes to realizing my ideas. I was the Creative Director of the overall project. I came up with the concept, I was the costume designer for the most part, making most of the costumes from scratch. I did the research when it came to the references I wanted to emulate. When it came to direction, my director (Steven Caldwell), my Assistant Director (Dom Bradley), and myself worked collaboratively to get the best results that we could to create the best product for the cast and myself to showcase. I would even collaborate with my Choreographer (Tayla Simpson) to create an effective and overall enjoyable dance routine that complimented the song. I love busting it out whenever the song comes on.

Q: Reflecting on your career, how has your identity and background influenced the music you create, particularly in songs like “Mania”?

A: A big thing for me is that I want to make sure that there’s always part of me in the art that I create. From parts of my personality, my thoughts, my interests, my dreams and desires, there’s always something there that links to a part of me. Music to me is a universal language, where no matter who you are, there’s always something within a song, no matter how small, that you can connect with someone. Music to me is so many things. It tells stories, it makes you dance, it makes you feel, it makes you imagine, the possibilities are endless with music. In ‘Mania’, I wanted to address that I can often have a terrible tendency to overthink about things, and I know I’m not alone in that sense. So, I wrote ‘Mania’ for anyone, and everyone who has had to deal with a racing mind and give them a chance to feel seen, and to escape, letting them do whatever they feel is safe and right, as well as to acknowledge the pure insanity of it in a lighter way.

Q: You’ve not collaborated with many artists yet in your career. Is there a collaboration on “Mania” or someone you wish to work with in the future?

A: No, unfortunately not yet. But I’m still young in my career, and there’s plenty more opportunities that can arise in the future. While I was the leading producer of ‘Under The Moon’ including ‘Mania’, I did collaborate with my producers mentioned before, and their wonderful ears and experience in the industry helped smooth out and bring the tracks to the elevated compositions they are on the EP. There are many collaborations I would love to work with in the future. I would love to work with Giorgio Moroder and Fernando Garibay, two absolutely legendary composers and producers that have helped shaped my sonic journey, Garibay especially leads as a defining inspiration for me. I would also love to work with such amazing and talented acts such as Lady Gaga, Elton John, Slayyyter, Poppy, Jon Bellion, Kylie Minogue, and many more. I don’t want to close the doors to other future collaborations because you just never know what magic can be created, but those are definitely some names that come to mind almost instantly.

Q: Looking back when you first started making music, what advice would you give to your younger self, especially considering the success of hits like “Mania”?

A: KEEP GOING. Two words that have the utmost significance to me when it comes to my artistry. Some other words would definitely have to be to trust the process. It may not seem how you wanted it to be at first glance, but it can turn out much better. Especially if you allow yourself to experiment and fail. You truly never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try things. I used to be so stubborn when I was starting out, being so adamant that my music had to fit a certain vein. The truth is though, my vein was different to my initial vision, and I have grown to love it so much more than what I did back then. There are still my rooted musical values within my work, but allowing myself the room to lean into newer aspects created what I have to present today.

Q: Many artists have a defining moment or a turning point in their career. Would you consider “Mania” to be one of those moments for you?

A: For me personally, ‘Mania’ definitely feels like one of those moments for me. While it may not have many of the surface titles of achievement for the song and video respectively. I can look at the work put into ‘Mania’ and say that I, and the team behind it, did that. It’s a good song, and a great video to compliment it. I’m not just saying that out of vanity. I, and everyone involved put in so much hard work, and it shows. Truthfully, I just want listeners and watchers to have as much fun as we did creating these works. It makes me want to create more.

Q: Lastly, beyond “Mania,” what can fans expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects or tours we should be on the lookout for?

A: While there’s no talks of a tour yet, it’s definitely something I would love to embark on, even if it was just a short local line up. There doesn’t seem to be a high demand for the kind of music that I make where I live on the Gold Coast of Queensland, but that won’t stop me from continuing to create, as well as look for opportunities or make them. There’s definitely a lot of thought behind how I can bring ‘Under The Moon’ and ‘Mania’ to life the way I intend it to be so that I can share the experience with more audiences. In addition, I am also working on new projects, that will never stop. There are too many stories I want to share and experiences that I want to create from here and beyond. I can’t wait until I have something new to share with the world.